‘This Oxford, I have no doubt, is the finest city in the world’ – John Keats.
Keats would probably not recognise the bustling city that Oxford has now become but the city still contains one of the greatest collections of buildings to be found anywhere. Moreover, these buildings have been home to an extraordinary number of statesmen, kings and saints and for over 800 years, Oxford University has educated philosophers, poets and scientists.
Unlike many modern universities, there is no recognisable university campus; instead, the university is an organisation with separate institutions called colleges which work together to educate all their members. Each college is built round its own quadrangle. Most of the fine buildings to be seen in Oxford belong to these colleges. In addition to the colleges, there are world renowned institutions such as the Ashmolean Museum and the Bodleian Library, both of which can be visited. Although Oxford was a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War in the 17th century, the ultimately victorious Oliver Cromwell did not subject it to one of his infamous demolition jobs. As a result, it is possible to trace the development of the university through its buildings.
There are two recommended ways to see Oxford. The first is to take a walking tour starting in Radcliffe Square. Visitors should allow at least 2½ hours for this tour. The second way is to take a jump on/jump off tour bus. These buses can be boarded at a number of places in the city and, as the name implies, visitors can get on and off the buses at as many places as they like on the tour route.
Visitors are strongly advised not to take their car into Oxford during daylight hours. Parking in the city centre is extremely difficult. Instead, visitors should use the Park and Ride centres which can be found on all main approaches to the City.